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March 19, 2009

Guardian fails to overturn injunction

Category: News

Injunction restraining publication of Barclays tax documents extended


 

Barclays Bank today won a continuation of a court order preventing the Guardian from republishing confidential documents relating to a tax avoidance plan.

The bank forced the newspaper to remove several internal memos from its website after lawyers obtained an injunction at about 2.30am on Tuesday this week. Barclays had persuaded Ouseley J to grant the emergency injunction on the basis that publication of proprietary documents, which the bank claims were stolen by a disaffected former employee, would damage its business by revealing the bank’s know-how and "global expertise gained over several years" to competitors.

 

Mr Justice Blake today ruled that Barclays had made out its case for continuing the restraint until a full trial.

Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger told Mr Justice Blake during the
hearing that he considered the documents to be "of the highest significance in the debate about tax avoidance".

While the judge accepted the existence of a real public interest in publishing stories of this kind he also found that this did not afford journalists complete freedom to publish in full confidential documents leaked in breach of fiduciary duty.

However, the judge went on to comment that he “could see no reason” why the Guardian could not make reference to the sensitive documents without publishing them in full. As well as barring the paper from publishing the documents, the judge also prohibited the newspaper from encouraging anyone else to publish them.

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